Monday, September 17, 2007

Anger Management

by Beth from Sense & Sensibilities

As is typical in religious or moral theology, what we are taught to believe often differs greatly from what is actually written in the Bible. Almost every list of vices, whether it be classic literary works, such as Dante and Chaucer, or modern day films like Se7en, contains wrath or anger as a sin. Yet, when we refer to Proverbs 6, the origin of the now infamous Seven Deadly Sins, neither are mentioned.

16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

17 a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

19 a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

This prompts the question: Is anger a sin?

No matter how much we try to control it, every person on the planet has a temper. Why is that? Did the devil create anger? I don’t believe so. He doesn't have the power to create. All he does is pervert the godly things God created.

It's God who gave us the capacity to get angry. Anger has a godly function.

There is a righteous use of anger. Not understanding this has rendered many of us so passive, we don't get mad at the evil in this world. After all, it’s not politically correct! Therefore, Satan is having a free shot at everything we hold dear and holy. Our society is under attack, and our righteous anger that God has given us as a weapon is kept in its sheath and not used. This needs to change.

So what is a proper use of anger?

"Ye that love the LORD hate evil". (Psalm 97:10)

"The fear of the LORD [is] to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate". (Prov. 8:13)

"The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom". (Psalm 111:10)

"The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge". (Prov. 1:7)

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good". (Rom. 12:9)

“Hate” is a pretty strong word, yet it is clearly stated that there are things in this world that we should hate. Note that I said things, not people.

Jesus was sinless, but He had hate and anger. In John 2:14-17, which took place at the beginning of Jesus' earthly ministry, and then in Mark 11:15-17, which took place the last week of Jesus' earthly ministry, Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple. He didn't approach them calmly and say, "Guys, I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt or offend any of you, but I have to do this to obey my Father." Not quite. He made a whip and beat the people and animals and turned over their tables. He was mad.

So, if God is perfect and there are things that He hates, and if Jesus was sinless but had anger, I ask again: Is anger really a sin?

To truly answer this, we need to examine what makes us angry.

We can't always change circumstances, and we don’t have the authority to control others, but we can control what's inside of us that makes us angry. The key is found in Proverbs 13:10:

"Only by pride cometh contention".

It's not what others do to us that makes us angry; it's the pride inside of us that causes us to get mad. That’s probably not what most people believe, but that's what the Bible says. This verse doesn't say that pride is one of the major reasons for anger — it's the only reason.

Pride is not only thinking we are better than others; pride can be thinking we are worse than others or just being self-conscious. It doesn't matter if the self is always exalting or debasing. It's all self-centeredness, which is pride. Like it or not, understand it or not, pride is the source of all of our anger. As we deal with our own self-love, anger toward others will be defused.

Anger itself is not wrong, but rather the pride behind it. Humility is truly the best anger management. Next time you find yourself feeling anger, look deeper and find out why.

Beth is the author of Sense & Sensibilities, where she writes about her life with her family, her dog, hormones and stalkers. She also turns the Big Four-Oh today, giving her all sorts of new bloggity goodness!


nutmeg said...

Happy Birthday! That was a difficult birthday for me but it led to self growth and crystal clear priorities. Enjoy.

I enjoyed your article on anger. No emotion is 'bad'. How we express it is where trouble can begin.

Mama Zen said...

Happy Birthday!

Great post. Excellent point that pride and self-love is the source of anger.

Carla said...

Happy 40th! The forties are'll see!!
I love your post. God has told us In your anger do not sin. He knows we will get angry, but in those brief seconds how do we respond? In parenting, I know that feeling of frustration that leads to anger and then what? If I take a deep breath, count on my fingers and THEN deal with it, I have not sinned in my anger. Tough Stuff but it honors God when we obey.

Annette Lyon said...

So well put. I've always believed that there is such a things as righteous anger (like the money changer example), but I hadn't really thought about the pride behind the anger issue. Thanks for putting that in a new light.

The Farmers Wife said...

This is a very interesting post. I find the way that different people interpret different religions to be fascinating. How something such as the bible can have so many different meanings to so many different people.

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